After more than two decades, the series “Dallas” is returning to TV with many of the original actors who made the show a hit during the 80s reprising their roles. New to the Ewing family drama is actress Marlene Forte, who plays Carmen Ramos, the family’s longtime housekeeper and mother to Elena (Jordana Brewseter), who is at the center of a love triangle between the two rival Ewing brothers (Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe).
The two-hour “Dallas” premiere airs June 13 at 8 p.m. on TNT.
Did you watch the original series?
Well, I’m Latina, so we grew up watching soap operas. But this was the American soap opera everyone would watch. You really got invested in this family. It was such a big part of TV back then.
What did you think about bringing the show back after all these years?
I think they’re bringing it back in a really smart way. If you’re not going to remake it and do something completely different, this is the smartest thing to do. Remakes are tricky. I think [writer] Cynthia [Cidre] came up with a really good idea. You don’t have to remake it. The show is within our lifetime, so why don’t we just visit this family again? You remember this family. Now they have children who are just as @#$! up as they were. It’s like your revisiting old friends. It’s like, “Oh my God, J.R. [Ewing] is still alive and he’s still the same son-of-a-bitch he was years ago.”
What does it feel like to be one of the new characters on the show?
Well, there was a maid in the original, but it was a character that would just come in and say, “Someone’s at the door.” In this one, my character has been living with the family for a while. She’s a big part of the family. She has a lot to say. She’s probably the most opinionated person on the show.
Does being an integral part of the show justify what some people might say is a stereotypical role for a Latina actress?
Yes, and I was one of those people. My manager sent me the script and he told me about the part and it sat on my desk for about two months. I was like, “That’s the best character you got?” I didn’t want to play the maid in “Dallas.” My manager begged me to read it and when I did I saw that it was very well-written and very funny. I told myself, “If I’m going to play a maid I’m not going to play a quiet maid.”
Actress Seychelle Gabriel never thought of herself as a science fiction admirer, but since starting her TV and film career only four years ago, those are the roles she’s attracting the most.
In 2008, Gabriel landed a small part in the comic-book movie “The Spirit” where she played the young version of actress Eva Mendes’s character Sand Saref. Two years later, she was cast in the role of Princess Yu in M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender.”
“Sci-fi really wasn’t my thing,” Gabriel, 20, told me during an exclusive interview. “It’s funny because all these things I started doing were cool fantasy-type projects. For me, I love it. I get to put myself in these amazing worlds.”
Gabriel continues her work in the sci-fi realm with the new TNT series “Falling Skies,” which stars Noah Wyle (TV’s “ER”) and Moon Bloodgood (“Terminator Salvation”). In the show Gabriel plays Lourdes, a pre-med student whose college career is cut short when aliens invade the earth. During the aftermath of the attack, Lourdes assists Anne Glass (Bloodgood) in attending to the medical needs of the survivors.
During our interview, Gabriel, who is of Mexican, French and Sicilian descent, talked about how she is similar to her character and whether or not she could survive an alien invasion herself.
“Falling Skies” premieres Sunday, June 19 at 8 p.m. on TNT.
Landing a role on a TV show produced by Steven Spielberg has to be the highlight of your career so far.
You know, when I first auditioned for it I really didn’t know anything about it. It was called the “Untitled Alien Invasion Project.” That was all I knew. I didn’t know Spielberg was attached. After I booked the pilot, my manager called me and told me Spielberg was a part of the show. It was a crazy surprise. It’s been a long journey. We shot the pilot in August 2009. A year later we started shooting the series. I am so ready for everyone to see it.
Tell me about your character Lourdes.
Lourdes is a really strong girl. She lost her family when all the aliens attacked so you meet her after she has been by herself for six months. She has developed her own life with the other survivors and has gotten really close with Moon Bloodgood’s character Anne. She finds a sort of mother-type relationship with her.
Did you find any similarities between you and your character as you shot the series?
I think we’re similar in the fact that despite the circumstances I am a determined person as well. Lourdes’s circumstances are a lot more serious than I’ve ever been through, but she someone I can admire. I’ve learned a lot from her about being grateful for what you have.
Did you try to put yourself in her situation and what you would do if an alien invasion ever happened? Would you survive?
It’s definitely something that is hard to imagine. I think I have some good ideas on how I would survive, but I’m not even sure if I would know where to start. If something like that were to happen I think you’d be just thrown into everything with people you don’t even know.
What was it like getting up close to some of the alien models on set?
The first time I saw one of the alien models I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I was like, “This is why we’re all doing this!” I remember standing there and my body went into this survival instinct mode. I wanted to back away even though I knew it was not real.
Were you like, “Hey, I thought Spielberg aliens were supposed to look as cute as E.T.!”
(Laughs) They do have an E.T quality with their skin and their heads and their bodies. When you get up close it almost looks like our skin. The skin is flesh colored, but it’s crumpled up and weird and really gross.
You are part Mexican, French and Sicilian. Is there a part of your ethnic background you feel closer to than the rest?
If I had to pick I’d probably say Mexican a little more. My grandma has really held onto her Mexican family roots. She is actually someone who helped understand Lourdes. My grandmother is someone I really look up to.